Two Police Officers Cleared After Crash During 2019 Blizzard

The two officers crashed one after another into the South Shore crash before a tow truck did the same.

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Two police officers have been cleared of any wrongdoing after a crash on the south coast they were called to assist during a severe snowstorm in 2019.

In January, while driving through heavy snow, the two officers, each in their own patrol car, lost control and crashed into a pileup of five cars, one after another.

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Quebec’s police ethics commissioner cited the officers for driving their patrol cars unsafely. However, given the circumstances, the ethics court acquitted both officials in a recent ruling.

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“A police officer driving during a snowstorm cannot anticipate everything,” Administrative Judge Benoit Mc Mahon wrote in a Dec. 20 ruling.

Images of the accident with the Dash Cam

More than 20 centimeters of snow fell in the Greater Montreal area on January 20, 2019.

The cocktail of snow, wind and extreme cold was dangerous enough that Quebec’s transportation department urged drivers to stay home if possible. Several crashes and collisions were reported throughout the day.

The accident in question occurred near an on-ramp to Highway 15 North in Candiac, on Montreal’s south shore.

According to the ethics ruling, a man driving a Ford Escape left the ramp that morning when he noticed cars stopping up ahead. He honked the horn to try to get them to move but ended up stopping behind them.

Shortly after, a white Ford Explorer heading toward Montreal was involved in the crash. Both drivers called 911 to report the collision.

Due to the number of accidents that occurred that day, the Sûreté du Québec had requested assistance from local police stations, including the Régie intermunicipale de Police Roussillon.

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Two police officers from the department, Samuel Gévry-Carle and Laura-Shan Gervais-Carpentier, were sent to the scene. They drove in separate cars but ended up following each other with their lights on.

As he approached the crash site, Gervais-Carpentier radioed his colleagues to warn that he could not see anything through the snow. Seconds later, he says the decision, he crashed into one of the stopped cars. Gévry-Carle, behind, did the same.

Not far from them, a tow truck took the on-ramp and, unbeknownst to the driver, headed toward the crash.

In footage captured by the truck’s dash cam, the two police cars are seen driving through the snow before disappearing. The driver then lets out a scream of fear before crashing into them.

“There was no visibility man, they just appeared,” he says in the video. “I just knocked down two police cars.”

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At the time of the crash, police said four people required hospital treatment for minor injuries, including the two police officers.

In his ruling, Mc Mahon said the officers and motorists involved described the same thing happening to them: They were driving in difficult but manageable conditions when visibility was suddenly cut off.

He noted the descriptions they used throughout the process, including calling the incident a total blackout or a “vertical blizzard” that came out of nowhere. One driver said the only way he could have avoided the accident was if he had stayed home that morning.

When questioned about their driving, neither police officer could say exactly what speed they were going before the accident. Both argued that they drove carefully and could see until the moment the blizzard arrived.

Mc Mahon ruled that the officers could have driven more slowly, but also noted that it was their duty to get to the scene as quickly as possible in case there were injured people.

For the officers to be at fault, the judge wrote, the court would have to be convinced that they lacked care and direction while driving.

Given the conditions that day, Mc Mahon discovered that was not the case.

Everyone involved in the crash, including an experienced tow truck driver, was caught off guard by the same weather phenomenon, he ruled.

“(Officers) could not have foreseen that a blackout curtain would obstruct their view in this way,” Mc Mahon wrote. “They did not commit any ethical violations.”

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